Among its luxury competitive cohort, Gucci is killing it online. Gucci was just named one of the three 2017 Momentum Award winners by SimilarWeb in the retail category, the only luxury brand to be so recognized. Gucci joins Uniqlo.com and Stitchfix.com as leaders in the online world of retail, based on the company’s algorithm measuring online traffic and engagement metrics.
Throughout 2017, Gucci’s web traffic more than doubled, going from 1.8M site visits in January ‘17 to 4.2M visits in December ‘17 – a 130% increase in web traffic overall. By year end, Gucci greatly surpassed Louis Vuitton in online traffic , its next closest competitor in the online luxury space. And while website traffic doesn’t necessarily translate into sales conversion, it certainly points to that. In December 2017 alone SimilarWeb tracked 4.2 million US visitors to Gucci.com, as compared with 2.9 million for LouisVuitton.com.
SimilarWeb is a Tel Aviv-based market intelligence company founded in 2013, which tracks traffic across the entire digital world including over 80 million global websites. In announcing Gucci as a Momentum winner for 2017, the company said, “Their success has surpassed other luxury good providers, and exemplifies strong digital execution that has allowed a century-old brand, established before digital sales, to evolve in a way that not only maintains relevance but continues to collect momentum.”
Wishing to understand the implications of this data for the luxury sector overall, and Gucci and Louis Vuitton brands specifically, I spoke to Liron Hakim-Bobrov, SimilarWeb’s marketing insights manager. “While the luxury industry as a whole is growing online, some competitors are taking to the digital space better than others. For example, in 2017 Louis Vuitton started out the year very strong, but it decreased over the year, in terms of trends in traffic share. Gucci, on the other hand, more than doubled. Gucci is an example of a brand doing the digital space very well,” she explains.
Looking across the leading luxury brands in the US, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Versace and YSL, Gucci’s online traffic market share increased 12.3 points, from 21.6% in January 2017 to 33.8% in December.
That means the remaining 20% of online traffic comes in other ways, including in order of importance referrals, social media, email and display ads. “This other 20% is the big opportunity for luxury brands to grow and gain users,” Hakim-Bobrov shares.
Gucci nails its referral traffic
What Gucci is doing especially well is leveraging traffic from referral or influencer networks, according to SimilarWeb’s data. Gucci got about 10% of its traffic last year through referral networks, with Reward Style being its primary source. But in December, 31.5% of the entire category’s referral traffic is going to Gucci.com. Polyvore.com and Lyst.com are its two other important referral networks.
“A strong referral strategy allows the brand to utilize influencers to expand awareness in an otherwise highly branded market, where there are very few places to reach ‘undecided’ luxury shoppers,” she shares. “Gucci.com is doing this quite well, using the most prominent influencer networks to reach a wider audience.”
Whereas Reward Style is Gucci’s most popular influencer network, it doesn’t show up on Louis Vuitton’s top referral sources, which are led by Purseblog.com, Uncrate.com and Averagesocialite.com. “Louis Vuitton is investing in other referral sources that are less prominent in the fashion world,” Hakim-Bobrov suggests.
Social media is less important for luxury brands, but Gucci leads there too
By contrast to referral networks, social media is a less important traffic driver to luxury brand websites. Gucci, for example, received 5% of its traffic overall in 2017 from social media, but that is more than for any of the other luxury brands. “When compared against the 7 other luxury leaders, Gucci received 32.4% of the category’s social traffic in December 2017,” she says.
As in referrals, Gucci’s social media strategies are distinctive, with Reddit.com being its strongest social network accounting for 49% of its social traffic, as compared with 34% for Louis Vuitton.
“Overall we’d expect Facebook to be one of its key social networks, but for Gucci it’s third most important after Reddit and YouTube,” she notes, pointing to its most popular subreddits sending traffic to Gucci as DesignerReps, FashionReps, streetwear and malefashionadivce. By contrast Facebook and Twitter are relatively more important drivers of traffic to Louis Vuitton.
The luxury industry’s two leading brands, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, are using two very distinctive online strategies, based upon this study of the SimilarWeb data. While online traffic doesn’t measure sales conversions, it is logical to assume that the more traffic a luxury brand gets to its website, the more sales it will make. And on that measure, Gucci is way out front of its next closest competitor, Louis Vuitton.